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Stephen Speaks to the Sanhedrin
1Then the high priest questioned Stephen. "Is what these people are saying true?" he asked.
2"Brothers and fathers, listen to me!" Stephen replied. "The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham. At that time Abraham was still in Mesopotamia. He had not yet begun living in Haran. 3'Leave your country and your people,' God said. 'Go to the land I will show you.' (Genesis 12:1)
4"So Abraham left the land of Babylonia. He settled in Haran. After his father died, God sent Abraham to this land where you are now living. 5God didn't give him any property here. He didn't give him even a foot of land. But God made a promise to him and to all his family after him. He said they would possess the land. The promise was made even though at that time Abraham had no child.
6"Here is what God said to him. 'Your family after you will be strangers in a country that is not their own. They will be slaves and will be treated badly for 400 years. 7But I will punish the nation that makes them slaves,' God said. 'After that, they will leave that country and worship me here.' (Genesis 15:13,14)
8"Then God made a covenant with Abraham. God told him that circumcision would show who the members of the covenant were. Abraham became Isaac's father. He circumcised Isaac eight days after he was born. Later, Isaac became Jacob's father. Jacob had 12 sons. They became the founders of the 12 tribes of Israel.
9"Jacob's sons were jealous of their brother Joseph. So they sold him as a slave. He was taken to Egypt. But God was with him. 10He saved Joseph from all his troubles. God made Joseph wise. He helped him to become the friend of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. So Pharaoh made Joseph ruler over Egypt and his whole palace.
11"There was not enough food for all Egypt and Canaan. This brought great suffering. Jacob and his sons couldn't find food. 12But Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt. So he sent his sons on their first visit. 13On their second visit, Joseph told his brothers who he was. Pharaoh learned about Joseph's family.
14"After this, Joseph sent for his father Jacob and his whole family. The total number of people was 75. 15Then Jacob went down to Egypt. There he and his family died. 16Some of their bodies were brought back to Shechem. They were placed in a tomb Abraham had bought. He had purchased it from Hamor's sons at Shechem for a certain amount of money.
17"In Egypt the number of our people grew and grew. It was nearly time for God to make his promise to Abraham come true. 18Another king became ruler of Egypt. He knew nothing about Joseph. 19He was very evil and dishonest with our people. He beat them down. He forced them to throw out their newborn babies to die.
20"At that time Moses was born. He was not an ordinary child. For three months he was taken care of by his family. 21Then he was placed outside. But Pharaoh's daughter took him home. She brought him up as her own son. 22Moses was taught all the knowledge of the people of Egypt. He became a powerful speaker and a man of action.
23"When Moses was 40 years old, he decided to visit the people of Israel. They were his own people. 24He saw one of them being treated badly by a man of Egypt. So he went to help him. He got even by killing the man. 25Moses thought his own people would realize that God was using him to save them. But they didn't.
26"The next day Moses saw two men of Israel fighting. He tried to make peace between them. 'Men, you are both of Israel,' he said. 'Why do you want to hurt each other?'
27"But the man who was treating the other one badly pushed Moses to one side. He said, 'Who made you ruler and judge over us? 28Do you want to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?' (Exodus 2:14) 29When Moses heard this, he escaped to Midian. He lived there as a stranger. He became the father of two sons there.
30"Forty years passed. Then an angel appeared to Moses in the flames of a burning bush. This happened in the desert near Mount Sinai. 31When Moses saw the bush, he was amazed. He went over for a closer look. There he heard the Lord's voice. 32'I am the God of your fathers,' the Lord said. 'I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.' (Exodus 3:6) Moses shook with fear. He didn't dare to look.
33"Then the Lord said to him, 'Take off your sandals. The place you are standing on is holy ground. 34I have seen my people beaten down in Egypt. I have heard their groans. I have come down to set them free. Now come. I will send you back to Egypt.' (Exodus 3:5,7,8,10)
35"This is the same Moses the two men of Israel would not accept. They had said, 'Who made you ruler and judge?' But God himself sent Moses to rule the people of Israel and set them free. He spoke to Moses through the angel who had appeared to him in the bush. 36So Moses led them out of Egypt. He did wonders and miraculous signs in Egypt, at the Red Sea, and for 40 years in the desert.
37"This is the same Moses who spoke to the people of Israel. 'God will send you a prophet,' he said. 'He will be like me. He will come from your own people.' (Deuteronomy 18:15) 38Moses was with the Israelites in the desert. He was with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai. Moses was with our people of long ago. He received living words to pass on to us.
39"But our people refused to obey Moses. They would not accept him. In their hearts, they wished they were back in Egypt. 40They told Aaron, 'Make us a god who will lead us. This fellow Moses led us out of Egypt. But we don't know what has happened to him!' (Exodus 32:1) 41That was the time they made a statue to be their god. It looked like a calf. They brought sacrifices to it. They were glad because of what they had made with their own hands. 42But God turned away from them. He left them to worship the sun, moon and stars. This agrees with what is written in the book of the prophets. There it says, " 'People of Israel, did you bring me sacrifices and offerings
for 40 years in the desert?
43You lifted up the place where Molech was worshiped.
You lifted up the star of your god Rephan.
You made statues of them to worship.
So I will send you away from your country.' (Amos 5:25-27)
God sent them to Babylon and even farther.
44"Long ago our people had with them in the desert the holy tent where the tablets of the covenant were kept. Moses had made the holy tent as God had commanded him. It was made like the pattern he had seen. 45Our people received the tent from God. They brought it with them when they took the land of Canaan. God drove out the nations that were in their way. At that time Joshua was Israel's leader.
"The tent remained in the land until David's time. 46David was blessed by God. So David asked if he could build a house for the God of Jacob. 47Instead, it was Solomon who built it for him.
48"But the Most High God does not live in houses made by human hands. As God says through the prophet,
49" 'Heaven is my throne.
The earth is under my control.
What kind of house will you build for me? says the Lord.
Where will my resting place be?
50Didn't my hand make all these things?' (Isaiah 66:1,2)
51"You people! You won't obey! You are stubborn! You won't listen! You are just like your people of long ago! You always oppose the Holy Spirit! 52Was there ever a prophet your people didn't try to hurt? They even killed those who told about the coming of the Blameless One. And now you have handed him over to his enemies. You have murdered him. 53The law you received was brought by angels. But you haven't obeyed it."
Stephen Is Killed
54When the Sanhedrin heard this, they became very angry. They ground their teeth at Stephen. 55But he was full of the Holy Spirit. He looked up to heaven and saw God's glory. He saw Jesus standing at God's right hand. 56"Look!" he said. "I see heaven open. The Son of Man is standing at God's right hand."
57When the Sanhedrin heard this, they covered their ears. They yelled at the top of their voices. They all rushed at him. 58They dragged him out of the city. They began to throw stones at him to kill him. The witnesses took off their coats. They placed them at the feet of a young man named Saul.
59While the members of the Sanhedrin were throwing stones at Stephen, he prayed. "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit," he said. 60Then he fell on his knees. He cried out, "Lord! Don't hold this sin against them!" When he had said this, he died.
Stephen Speaks in His Own Defense
1 Then the chief priest asked Stephen, “Is this true?”
2 Stephen answered, “Brothers and fathers, listen to me. The God who reveals his glory appeared to our ancestor Abraham in Mesopotamia. This happened before Abraham lived in Haran. 3 God told him, ‘Leave your land and your relatives. Go to the land that I will show you.’
4 “Then Abraham left the country of Chaldea and lived in the city of Haran. After his father died, God made him move from there to this land where we now live.
5 “Yet, God didn’t give Abraham anything in this land to call his own, not even a place to rest his feet. But God promised to give this land to him and to his descendants, even though Abraham didn’t have a child. 6 God told Abraham that his descendants would be foreigners living in another country and that the people there would make them slaves and mistreat them for 400 years. 7 God also told him, ‘I will punish the people whom they will serve. After that, they will leave that country and worship me here.’
8 “God gave Abraham circumcision to confirm his promise.#Or “covenant.” So when Abraham’s son Isaac was born, Abraham circumcised him on the eighth day. Isaac did the same to his son Jacob, and Jacob did the same to his twelve sons (the ancestors of our tribes).
9 “Jacob’s sons were jealous of their brother Joseph. They sold him into slavery, and he was taken to Egypt. But God was with Joseph 10 and rescued him from all his suffering. When Joseph stood in the presence of Pharaoh (the king of Egypt), God gave Joseph divine favor #Or “grace.” and wisdom so that he became ruler of Egypt and of Pharaoh’s whole palace. 11 Then a famine throughout Egypt and Canaan brought a lot of suffering. Our ancestors couldn’t find any food. 12 When Jacob heard that Egypt had food, he sent our ancestors there. That was their first trip. 13 On the second trip, Joseph told his brothers who he was, and Pharaoh learned about Joseph’s family. 14 Joseph sent for his father Jacob and his relatives, 75 people in all. 15 So Jacob went to Egypt, and he and our ancestors died there. 16 They were taken to Shechem for burial in the tomb that Abraham purchased in Shechem from Hamor’s sons.
17 “When the time that God had promised to Abraham had almost come, the number of our people in Egypt had grown very large. 18 Then a different king, who knew nothing about Joseph, began to rule in Egypt. 19 This king was shrewd in the way he took advantage of our people. He mistreated our ancestors. He made them abandon their newborn babies outdoors, where they would die.
20 “At that time Moses was born, and he was a very beautiful child. His parents took care of him for three months. 21 When Moses was abandoned outdoors, Pharaoh’s daughter adopted him and raised him as her son. 22 So Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and became a great man in what he said and did. 23 When he was 40 years old, he decided to visit his own people, the Israelites. 24 When he saw an Israelite man being treated unfairly by an Egyptian, he defended the Israelite. He took revenge by killing the Egyptian. 25 Moses thought his own people would understand that God was going to use him to give them freedom. But they didn’t understand. 26 The next day Moses saw two Israelites fighting, and he tried to make peace between them. He said to them, ‘Men, you are brothers. Why are you treating each other unfairly?’
27 “But one of the men pushed Moses aside. He asked Moses, ‘Who made you our ruler and judge? 28 Do you want to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?’ 29 After he said that, Moses quickly left Egypt and lived in Midian as a foreigner. In Midian he fathered two sons.
30 “Forty years later, a Messenger appeared to him in the flames of a burning bush in the desert of Mount Sinai. 31 Moses was surprised when he saw this. As he went closer to look at the bush, the voice of the Lord said to him, 32 ‘I am the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.’ Moses began to tremble and didn’t dare to look at the bush. 33 The Lord told him, ‘Take off your sandals. The place where you’re standing is holy ground. 34 I’ve seen how my people are mistreated in Egypt. I’ve heard their groaning and have come to rescue them. So now I’m sending you to Egypt.’
35 “This is the Moses whom the Israelites rejected by saying, ‘Who made you our ruler and judge?’ This is the one God sent to free them and to rule them with the help of the Messenger who appeared to him in the bush. 36 This is the man who led our ancestors out of Egypt. He is the person who did amazing things and worked miracles in Egypt, at the Red Sea, and in the desert for 40 years. 37 This is the same Moses who told the Israelites, ‘God will send you a prophet, an Israelite like me.’ 38 This is the Moses who was in the assembly in the desert. Our ancestors and the Messenger who spoke to him on Mount Sinai were there with him. Moses received life-giving messages to give to us, 39 but our ancestors were not willing to obey him. Instead, they pushed him aside, and in their hearts they turned back to Egypt. 40 They told Aaron, ‘We don’t know what has happened to this Moses, who led us out of Egypt. So make gods who will lead us.’ 41 That was the time they made a calf. They offered a sacrifice to that false god and delighted in what they had made.
42 “So God turned away from them and let them worship the sun, moon, and stars. This is written in the book of the prophets: ‘Did you bring me sacrifices and grain offerings in the desert for 40 years, nation of Israel? 43 You carried along the shrine of Moloch, the star of the god Rephan, and the statues you made for yourselves to worship. I will send you into exile beyond the city of Babylon.’
44 “In the desert our ancestors had the tent of God’s promise. Moses built this tent exactly as God had told him. He used the model he had seen. 45 After our ancestors received the tent, they brought it into this land. They did this with Joshua’s help when they took possession of the land from the nations that God forced out of our ancestors’ way. This tent remained here until the time of David, 46 who won God’s favor. David asked that he might provide a permanent place for the family of Jacob.#Some manuscripts and translations read “God of Jacob.”47 But Solomon was the one who built a house for God.
48 “However, the Most High doesn’t live in a house built by humans, as the prophet says:
49 ‘The Lord says,
“Heaven is my throne.
The earth is my footstool.
What kind of house are you going to build for me?
Where will I rest?
50 Didn’t I make all these things?” ’
51 “How stubborn can you be? How can you be so heartless and disobedient? You’re just like your ancestors. They always opposed the Holy Spirit, and so do you! 52 Was there ever a prophet your ancestors didn’t persecute? They killed those who predicted that a man with God’s approval would come. You have now become the people who betrayed and murdered that man. 53 You are the people who received Moses’ Teachings, which were put into effect by angels. But you haven’t obeyed those teachings.”
Stephen Is Executed
54 As council members listened to Stephen, they became noticeably furious. 55 But Stephen was full of the Holy Spirit. He looked into heaven, saw God’s glory, and Jesus in the position of authority that God gives. 56 So Stephen said, “Look, I see heaven opened and the Son of Man in the position of authority that God has given him!”
57 But the council members shouted and refused to listen. Then they rushed at Stephen with one purpose in mind, 58 and after they had thrown him out of the city, they began to stone him to death. The witnesses left their coats with a young man named Saul.
59 While council members were executing Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, welcome my spirit.” 60 Then he knelt down and shouted, “Lord, don’t hold this sin against them.” After he had said this, he died.